Ephesus - Part 2

Continuing west along Curetes Street from the State Agora, you see these restored monuments:

Trajan Fountain (below), originally two stories-high, it was built around 102-104 AD by Aristion, an Asiarch (a men of high honorary rank in the Roman province of Asia), to honor the emperor Trajan (98-117 AD). The facade of the two-storey building was once decorated with statues of Dionysus, Aphrodite, Androclos and emperor Trajan. In front of the building was a pool with water cascading from beneath the colossal statue of Trajan, which is still in its original place, but only the pedestal and one foot remain. The building flanked the pool on three sides and its facade was highly ornate with Corinthian columns on the upper story and composite columns on the lower.

Trajan Fountain

Temple of Hadrian (below), was built in 138 AD by a citizen, P. Quintilius. Bronze statues of four emperors Galerius, Maximian, Diocletian and Constantius Chlorus once stood on the square pedestals in front. The keystone of the arch has a relief of Tyche, the goddess of fortune. In the lunette over the entrance to the cella, there is another relief of a semi-nude girl, probably of Medusa. The interior featured scenes depicting the legendary foundation of Ephesus by King Androklos, son of the king of Athens, including: Androclus killing a wild boar; Hercules rescuing Theseus, a mythological hero and the first true King of Athens, who was chained to a bench as a punishment by Hades for trying to kidnap Persephone from the underworld; Amazons, Dionysus and his entourage; Emperor Theodosius I, an enemy of paganism, and an assembly of gods including Athena and Artemis.

Hadrian Temple

"Houses on the Slope" (below) - On the south (left) side of Curetes Street, between the state and commercial agoras, a group of condominiums crowded together on a series of ascending terraces on the slope of Mt. Koressos have been excavated. They were owned by some of the city's upper-middle class-citizens. Originally built in the 1st century AD, they were inhabited until the 7th century AD. The apartment block is fronted by a colonnade sheltering stores and taverns. Passageways between the shops lead from the street up to the entrances of the homes. Usually, they had two or more stories with about 12 rooms. The common feature of the homes was a small central courtyard surrounded by columns to let in fresh air and light. They were decorated with beautiful frescoes and mosaics and had luxurious bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchens. Ceramic pipes connected each to the city's main water pipeline. The thickness of the pipe was adjusted according to the need of each housean early water meter. The houses also featured a central heating system consisting of ceramic pipes hidden in the walls. Perhaps some wealthy family, leaders of Ephesus' budding Christian community, held home-church meetings in one of the houses being excavated here.

Houses on the Slope

Baths of Scholastica (below) - Part of a large complex on the north side of Curetes Street. Originally built in the beginning of the 2nd century AD, it was renovated during the rule of the emperor Theodosius (4th century AD) by a wealthy Christian woman named Skolastika and included eating places, dressing rooms, hot and cold baths, massage and anointing chambers and a public lavatory.

skolastika baths

Below, some of the fifty seats in the public latrine.

puplic latrine

Library of Celsus (below) - One of the most spectacular buildings in Ephesus and one of the great libraries of the ancient world, it was built in 110 AD by the proconsul of Asia Gaius Julius Aquila as a memorial to his father Julius Celsus Polemeanus. He was granted permission to bury his father in a sarcophagus within the library.

The library's three entrances are flanked by four niches with statues representing the virtues of Celsus, Sophia (Wisdom), Areté (Valor), Ennoia (Thought) and Epistémé (Knowledge). The semicircular niche on the main floor facing the central entrance probably contained a statue of Athena. Although no traces have been found, it is thought that there was an auditorium for lectures or presentations between the library and the street leading to the great theater. The library held an estimated 12,000 hand-written scrolls, which were given to readers by library officials. The building was burned in the 3rd century AD.

Celcus Library Facade

The two portals to the right of the library facade (above) belong to the Mazaeus - Mithridates Gate, built in 40 AD by two slaves to honor emperor Augustus who gave them their freedom. A Latin inscription with inlaid bronze letters reads, in part: "From the Emperor Caesar Augustus, the son of the god, the greatest of the priests, who was consul twelve and tribune twenty times; and the wife of August Livia; the son of Lucus, Marc Agrippa who was consul three times, Emperor, and tribune six times; and the daughter of Julio Caesar Augustus, Mazaeus and Mithridates to their master and the people."

At the end of Curetes Street is large private house (below) believed to have been a brothel, because a statue of the fertility god Priapus with an oversize phallus (now in the Ephesus Museum) was found inside. The building was constructed during the reign of the emperor Trajan (98-117 AD). It had a hall on the first floor and a number of small rooms on the second floor. On the west side was a reception area with colored floor mosaics, symbolizing the four seasons.

Brothel or Private house

Curetes Street ends at the plaza in front of the Library of Celsus; From there, another street, designated "Marble Way," leads north to the Great Theater of Ephesus.

Etched into one of the paving stones along Marble Way, is a footprint (below) indicating the presence of a brothel nearby.

Brothel Advertisement

Great Theater (below) - Gouged out of the hillside at the end of the Marble Way (as if you can miss it!), it was originally built between 332-63 BC and enlarged under Claudius (41-54 AD, about the time Paul was in the city), and again by Nero (54-68 AD). It had seating for 24,500 spectators divided into three tiers of 22 rows each.

Ephesus theater

From the theater, a wide street called Arcadian Way leads west to the harbor, now completely silted up from the flow of sediments carried by the Cayster River. Arcadian Way was named for emperor Arcadius (395-408 AD) during whose reign it was rebuilt in its present form. Covered double colonnades ran along both sides, and there were monumental gates at both ends, but they were totally destroyed. Its paving stones still show graffiti–Christian cruciform designs. During the Roman era the road was lighted by 100 lamps, making Ephesus one of the first ancient cities, along with Rome and Antioch, known to have had street lighting.

On the left side (south) of Arcadian Way was the city's Commercial Agora (below) the city's largest marketplace-trade center. This large open market area was known as the "Square Agora" because its sides measured 360 feet long.

Commercial agora

The agora was the center of the commercial world in Ephesus. In addition to the marketing of goods there was also a slave market of beautiful girls brought from different places by sea. A water-clock and a sundial stood in the center. Sixty or so shops surrounded three of its sides (below). It is quite possible that Paul worked here with Priscilla and her husband Aquila, his friends and co-workers in Corinth, in their tent-making business. It is easy to picture Priscilla, clad in a white toga, shopping for an evening meal, while Aquila and Paul vigorously debate about Jesus with some of the city's leading men or their fellow trades-people.


Paul preaches the Gospel in Ephesus

(The account of Paul's stay in Ephesus is found in Acts 19:1-20:1)

September 52 AD: As promised during a brief stop during his second missionary journey, Paul returned to Ephesus, this time for an extended stay. Unlike other cities he visited during his two previous missions Philippi, Thessaloniki, Corinth, Pisidian Antioch Paul did not found the church in Ephesus. Christianity was introduced there through the Jews and the original community was under the leadership of a learned and eloquent Jewish convert from Alexandra named Apollos (1 Corinthians 1:12), who knew only of the baptism of John, and nothing of Jesus. He began teaching in the synagogues, where Priscilla and Aquila, Paul's former co-workers in Corinth and now living in Ephesus, heard him speak. They invited him to their home to explain the way of God according to Jesus. Before Paul's arrival Apollos traveled to Corinth where he publicly refuted the Jews, quoting from the scriptures to prove that Jesus was the Messiah.

Like Corinth, Ephesus was a wealthy commercial center, yet it was also home to an assortment of pagan priests, exorcists, magicians, sacred prostitutes and charlatans. The pride of Ephesus was the great marble Temple of Artemis, one of the fabled Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and it played host to hordes of pilgrims from around the known world. Moreover the city prided itself on being a center for the cult of emperor worship. Rich, pampered and pagan to the core, Ephesus must have appeared as the ultimate challenge to Paul. In a letter written from Ephesus to the Corinthians, Paul exulted: "a great and effectual opportunity has opened to me, but there are many adversaries" (1 Corinthians. 16:9). If Paul could win Ephesus for Christ, doors would be opened everywhere.

52-53 AD - Paul consolidated the Ephesus church and supervised mission efforts to other cities in the province of Asia, including Colossae, Hierapolis, Laodicea, Pergamum, Philadelphia, Sardis, Smyrna and Thyatira. During his two-year plus stay in Ephesus, he had to send Timothy on several missions to Macedonia to deal with disciplinary issues.

During his initial three months in Ephesus, Paul taught in the synagogue, until opposition forced him to move to the "hall of Tyrannus," where he held daily sessions for another two years (in Acts 20:31 we are given a round figure of three years, from 54 to 57 AD, for his total time in the city). Tyrannus means "tyrant" but we don't know if his students or his mother gave him the name. He seems to have been a philosopher or teacher who rented out his hall to Paul for a nominal fee. Paul taught there during the hottest part of the day, from 11 am to 4 pm, when Tryrannus' own students had presumably left to take a nap. This allowed Paul to earn a living making tent cloth in the early morning hours.

c. 53 AD - Paul possibly wrote his letter to the Galatians to defend his apostolic authority, expose those who would destroy the essence of the gospel and exhort the Galatians to stand fast in the faith. One of the key verses in Galatians:

"Know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified." (Galatians 2:16)

c. 53 AD - Money arrived from Philippi allowing him to devote more time to his missionary efforts.  Paul wrote a letter to the Philippians as well.

c. 52-54 AD - Paul wrote a second letter to the Corinthians (now called 1 Corinthians; an earlier letter was lost). It contained instructions on collecting money for the needy Christians in Jerusalem.

Paul's mission in Ephesus was so successful that many of the believers who had been practicing black magic burned their expensive books of incantations and charms, known as "Ephesian Writings," in a public bonfire, indicating how deeply the region was stirred by the gospel. The success of the Christians also alarmed the city's merchants who did a brisk business selling commemorate images to pilgrims. One, a silversmith named Demetrius, called a meeting and addressed his men, together with others employed in related trades:

"Men, you know we receive a good income from this business. And you see and hear how this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia. He says that man-made gods are no gods at all. There is danger not only that our trade will lose its good name, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited, and the goddess herself, who is worshiped throughout the province of Asia and the world, will be robbed of her divine majesty."

As they listened, their anger boiled and they began shouting, "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!"

A crowd gathered and soon the city was filled with confusion. Everyone rushed into the city's huge 24,500 seat theater, dragging along Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul's traveling companions. Paul wanted to help his friends but other friends, no less than the Roman provincial officials, begged him not to risk his life. With a full-dress riot brewing the Ephesian Jews prompted one of their number, Alexander, to stand up in the orchestra and make it clear to the crowd that Paul did not represent the Jewish community. Someone yelled that he was a Jew and bedlam broke out. The mob started shouting repeatedly for two hours...

"Great is Artemis of the Ephesians, Great is Artemis of the Ephesians, Great is Artemis of the Ephesians..."

  • ** (See note at bottom of page)

Theater, setting for the riot

Finally, a "city clerk" (Greek "grammateus") arrived and quieted the crowd. The man, likely the city's acting chief official rather than a public servant as implied by Acts, told them that if they had any grievances, they could be legally address before the courts or proconsuls. He concluded his speech with a reminder that Ephesus was a Roman colony and that if they didn't halt this illicit behavior, the Roman proconsul, or even the emperor himself, might decide to punish the entire city: "As it is, we are in danger of being charged with rioting because of today's events." With that, the crowds dispersed, probably too tired and too hoarse to continue.

Originally built between 332-63 BC and enlarged under Claudius (41-54 AD, about the time Paul was in the city), and again by Nero (54-68 AD), the theater had seating for 24,500 spectators divided into three tiers of 22 rows each. Nearly 2000 years later, the acoustics are excellent; from the stage you can easily hear snippets of French and Italian conversations from other tour groups. To test them further, our guide dropped a coin on the orchestra pavement and it was heard perfectly near the upper row of seats. Some of the group began singing "Amazing Grace," and it too was heard clearly.

According to Acts, Paul left Ephesus soon after the riot. Luke writes as if he had a relatively peaceful time there until he ran afoul of the silversmiths guild. The evidence of Paul's letters speaks otherwise. The Corinthian letters, written during his stay in Ephesus, reflect turmoil, conflict and confusion over any number of issues. In 1 Corinthians 15:32 he said, "I fought wild beasts in Ephesus." Since Paul was a Roman citizen he could not have been forced to fight wild animals in the city stadium. This must have been a figurative way of saying that he had to endure tremendous hardship. There are indications that Paul was imprisoned in Ephesus, possibly because of the theater riot, and that upon his release, he set out for Macedonia and Greece to deal with some of these problems personally.


Temple of Artemis Destroyed

In 263 AD the Temple of Artemis was plundered by the Goths. During the reign of Diocletian (285-305 AD) it was partially restored on a smaller scale. It remained in use until 395 when emperor Theodocius ordered the closure of all pagan shrines. In 401 AD it was destroyed by a mob led by the Patriarch of Constantinople who saw the act as a final triumph of Christianity over paganism. Like all pagan shrines the site became a quarry for columns and marble for building churches. Today the temple site (below) is marked by foundation outlines, scattered marble blocks and a single restored column. ** (See note at bottom of page)

temple of artemis site

Excavation of the Artemsion site: In 1869 archaeologist J.T. Wood, working at Ephesus for the British Museum, uncovered a corner of the Artemision. His excavation exposed to view not only the scanty remains of the latest edifice (built after 350 BC) but the platform below it of an earlier temple of identical size and plan subsequently found to be that of the 6th century BC temple built by Croesus. The sculptured fragments of both temples were sent to the British Museum. In 1904 D.G. Hogarth, heading another mission, examined the earlier platform and found  the remains of three older structures beneath its center. The earliest known phase the temple dates from about 600 BC.

Paul departs Ephesus for Corinth